Photo by Doug Cook.
The Chuck Moller era has officially begun for Bradshaw Mountain’s football program.
Some five months after alum David Moran was dismissed as coach, first-year Bears lead mentor Moller guides his squad into Week 1 of the 2017 season. The campaign kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, versus 4A foe Cactus at Bob Pavlich Field in Prescott Valley.
Although it’s unclear whether an inexperienced Bradshaw bunch can defend its 4A Grand Canyon Region title and qualify for the state playoffs again this fall, the Bears remain optimistic. Bradshaw compiled an 8-3 overall record and a 6-0 mark in region last year, losing in the first round at state.
“We want to continue with the success [that this program has had in recent years] and build on the foundation and character [of the boys],” Moller said last week from practice. “We want highly academic players who seek excellence in every aspect. I’m liking our development. Starting at home is a plus. We will keep building.”
Offensively, Bradshaw Mountain turns to senior first-year quarterback Timmy Young (6-foot-1, 216 pounds) for leadership with 2016 region player of the year Gunner Bundrick having graduated in the spring. Young is athletic and mobile, and he will be counted on to run the ball, perhaps as often as Bundrick did the past two years.
In the backfield, Moller likes fullback Anthony Mata (5-6, 160), junior running back Logan Brannan and running back Victor Arenas. None of these boys started last year, but Moller said they form one of the team’s strengths in an up-tempo, run-focused offense.
Protecting Young is an experienced offensive line whose starters include senior left tackle Trey Gustafson (6-0, 190), junior left guard Hunter Rowe (5-9, 240), junior center Parker Hines, junior right guard Jared Wasielewski and junior right tackle Coby Meldrum (6-2, 240). Junior Jacob Harding (6-4, 215), Braden Tolbert, Jacob Slocumb and Noah Shaver are in the mix at tight end.
Defensively, the line consists of end/nose guard Meldrum as well as Hines, Rowe, Gustafson, Wasielewski and Tolbert, who will fill either the tackle spots or the other end position depending on the formation.
“We have the ability for multiple linemen to see playing time,” Moller said.
At linebacker, junior Connor Scott, Slocumb, Shaver, Tolbert, Tayler Prevelet, junior Elijah Knisely (6-0, 170), Brannan, Ayden Otero (5-11, 170) and Austin Yarbrough (5-9, 165) should rotate in and out. In the backfield, junior safety Luke Huenemeyer (5-10, 165) and senior cornerback Devon Olson have locked down spots. Otero, Cody Tucker, junior Bobby Jones (5-8, 130) and Young are backups.
On special teams, senior Brandon Fischer will kick, although not in the opener because he’s still recovering from an injury, Moller said. Matthew Tamayo might kick in Fischer’s place for at least this week, although that hadn’t been determined as of mid-August. Huenemeyer and Young will punt. Punt/kick return men include Huenemeyer, Jones, Mata and Brannan.
Moller said he will call all of the plays this season with the help of new offensive coordinator Gary Cook.
“Every day is an adventure,” Moller added. “There’s a lot of competition; a lot of kids competing [for starting roles on this team]. We will win with everybody. The kids are buying in. We want to have a great season.”